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Point Counter Point: NM Film Council Debate

Posted by on November 27, 2012

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There are at least two sides to every story and often a myriad more modus operandi, even when working from the same playbook, toward the same goal.

The purpose of this very site is to promote any and everyone with an interest in furthering opportunities for New Mexicans through Film, Entertainment and Community Activism. Many such advocates surface and then subside, but something that does not wane is the passion of the people taking up tasks to support New Mexico Film.

Below are the Point and Counterpoint of two very active, if not vocal advocates for New Mexico Film on the Hot Topics of our state governing vs. our collective favorite state industry.

From New Mexico Filmmakers Moderator, Nevada Sands –

Humanitarian documentary film production is the reason I studied filmmaking. When I came to New Mexico, I met many independent filmmakers struggling financially and working for free and saw Hollywood production companies spending millions on subject matter that didn’t interest me. I became disheartened. However, after noticing Governor Susana Martinez never appointed a chairman for…the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries, I got excited about making Susana Martinez accountable for non-compliance of Film Council bylaws: NMSA 1978, Section 9-15-4.1.

For nearly two years, the NM Governor has stood in her willful defiance of Film Council by refusing to appoint a chairman, failing to meet at least quarterly and failing to report the results of these meeting to Legislature as is mandated. For the last four months, this lawlessness has been made public on the New Mexico Filmmakers Facebook page. Moreover, the following public servants have been repeatedly notified in writing of this very crime: NM Lt. Governor John Sanchez, NM Secretary of State Dianna Duran, NM Attorney General Gary King, NM Director of Boards and Commissions Jeremiah Ritchie, NM Secretary of Economic Development Jon Barela, NM Deputy Director of Constituent Services Henry Varela, NM Film Office Director Nick Maniatis, the NM Legislature along with media at the local, national and international levels. However, it appears that nobody seems to have the courage, ethics or know-how on how to enforce the law at the political level.

Susan Martinez—with her reputation of being a conservative Republican who hates Hollywood—would rather grant her oil friends tax breaks than the film industry. A former Film Council member stated recently that New Mexico lost $300 million in business last year and another $300 million this year as a direct result of Susana’s actions. She took a solo runaway train and deliberately ran it right off the cliff. Many filmmakers and associated businesses have suffered great financial loss due to the changes made in the film industry by Susana without Film Council.

The greatest contribution I could ever make to the NM film industry is to ensure Film Council compliance so that the Governor receives needed counsel and accountability. Word on the street is that anyone who goes against Susana gets fired. When New Mexico Film Office Director Nick Maniatis saw the Facebook posts making the Governor accountable for breaking Film Council law, he blocked us on Facebook. My wonder is if Nick enjoys the extra power operating without Film Council, for I cannot fathom why Nick isn’t the one spearheading this effort. The head of New Mexico’s filmmaker union Jon Hendry called the Film Council an “ineffectual vanity council.” Sad.

This matter now stands before the President of the United States of America and the NM Federal Bureau of Investigation. Public servant financial disclosure statements–which are publicly available on the Internet–were posted on this public page; but, since public servants complained, Facebook removed the public information with a warning. Seems New Mexico public servants not only feel they don’t have to comply with Film Council bylaws, by they also believe they don’t have to comply with the Financial Disclosure Act. Time to defend our rights to make politicians obey the law and remain accountable.

Governor Susana Martinez stands 23 months in willful defiance of the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries. My focus is on that. If you read the poster that this thread is attached to, you will see the trail of public servants who enable this crime. What I mean about making a mockery of that, is that it’s so blatantly obvious that it’s a joke.

From New Mexico Federation of Labor President Jon Hendry

Why are people asking me about the Governor’s Council on film? I sat on that thing under both Johnson and Richardson. In fact I was the longest serving member. Tell me one thing, just ONE that we did in ten years of meetings that made a difference? Governors use these commissions to reward friends and give themselves cover. There are real issues out there in our business. This isn’t one of them.

I’ve been reading the postings on impeaching the Governor over not appointing a film advisory council. Much as I appreciate the enthusiasm, I kind of feel obliged to throw my nickels’ worth in here as the only person who sat continuously on every advisory board from Gov. Johnson to Richardson.

Understand that the reason you form one of these Councils is not to get advice but to have a Board you can point to and say “these people are in the business and they approved it”, so you’re going to appoint people who pretty much agree with you – not those who would question your judgment or decisions in any way. That is the same across all levels of government. These types of commissions are set-up to allow Departments to report and get their news and opinions on record and to give the administration cover. Having a Film Council appointed by the Governor alone is really pointless in making a difference.

On initiating impeachment proceedings – it’s never going to fly as long as at least a third of the House members are Republicans. It’s again pointless.

This talk of a reconstituted film council is just a distraction. If the intent is to highlight the Governors failure then fair enough. But if the intent is to actually get a Council appointed that will make a difference then it’s not only a wasted effort but it’s a waste of resources. The NM Film Office is tasked to administer and staff the council. It’s time consuming wrangling that many people to attend meetings , prepare agendas and take minutes. With the large budget cuts that have resulted in minimal marketing dollars you’re using staff time and resources that will have to come out of already greatly diminished funds. Is this the best use of their time ? If the board was neutral and knowledgeable then yes. An independent oversight of the State’s programs would be beneficial not only to the industry but to the Film Office. However as the Governor appoints and replaces there’s not even the suggestion of independence. It would simply give the Governors office the opportunity to point to the board and say “this body approves of what were doing therefore it must be right” and many will believe it. Frankly I’m surprised there’s no board as it would be of more use to the administration than to the Business.

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Comments (4)

  • Once again Jon Hendry has failed to provide us with the sort of entertainment that fulmination (the issuing of ‘thundering’ denunciations” – from the Latin fulminatus, past participle of fulminare “hurl lightning”) affords and in it’s place proffers yet another boring appeal to reason, based as usual in information that he claims to have gained from first hand experience – in this instance with the realities of the political process here in New Mexico. As President Reagan once observed “Facts are stupid things” and people like Jon need to recognize that most of us are no longer interested in any realities other than those of our own making.

  • FOOD FOR THOUGHT

    Just because the public servants who were appointed to have a Film Council and members of the Film Council failed to do their jobs doesn’t mean that it’s not in the best interest of the public to have a properly functioning Film Council. It is intended to act as an oversight committee. Ought we do away with all public offices simply because some politicians are dumb, corrupt or lazy? No. We stand firm for the principles of upholding the law by mandating expert counsel and accountability to protect the public.

  • THE LAW AND PURPOSE OF THE GOVERNOR’S COUNCIL ON FILM AND MEDIA INDUSTRIES

    Section 9-15-4.1 – Governor’s council on film and media industries; created; membership; executive board.

    A. The “governor’s council on film and media industries” is created to advise the department and the governor on ways to promote film production in New Mexico, assist in the design and implementation of the department’s strategic plan for building a media infrastructure in the state, assist in designing a workforce training program for film production and make recommendations for incentives and funding for these efforts.

    B. The governor’s council on film and media industries shall be composed of no more than thirty members appointed by the governor for four-year staggered terms; provided that the initial appointments shall be made so that one-half of the members shall be appointed for two-year terms and one-half of the members shall be appointed for four-year terms. Terms shall expire on January 1.

    C. From the membership of the governor’s council on film and media industries, the governor shall appoint a seven-member “executive board”. At least five members of the executive board shall have experience in some aspect of film production. The executive board shall:

    (1) with the approval of the secretary, create subcommittees of the governor’s council on film and media industries and name the chairmen of those subcommittees;

    (2) coordinate activities of the subcommittees and the governor’s council on film and media industries; and

    (3) develop recommendations pertaining to the charges of the governor’s council on film and media industries for the consideration of the governor’s council on film and media industries.

    D. The governor shall name the chairman of the governor’s council on film and media industries, who shall serve as the chairman of the executive board. The governor’s council on film and media industries may elect such other officers as it deems necessary. The governor’s council on film and media industries shall meet at the call of the chairman, at least quarterly. Members of the governor’s council on film and media industries may receive per diem and mileage for travel within New Mexico as provided in the Per Diem and Mileage Act [10-8-1 NMSA 1978], but shall receive no other compensation, perquisite or allowance.

    E. Staff for the governor’s council on film and media industries shall be provided by the department.

    F. The governor’s council on film and media industries shall report to the department, the governor and the legislature by December 1 of each year on its activities and recommendations.

  • JON HENDRY WROTE:

    “I’ve been reading the postings on impeaching the Governor over not appointing a film advisory council. Much as I appreciate the enthusiasm, I kind of feel obliged to throw my nickels’ worth in here as the only person who sat continuously on every advisory board from Gov. Johnson to Richardson.”

    NEVADA’S RESPONSE

    It is suggested that anyone who thinks impeachment has only to do with the film industry should look here:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/impeach-governor-susana-martinez

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